First appeared in Western Journal
By Aron Solomon
Late Thursday evening, major news outlets buzzed with the confirmation that former President Donald J. Trump had been charged under the Espionage Act, specifically 18 U.S. Code 793, “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.”
But what caught everyone off guard was the surprising choice of venue for the case: Miami, Florida, instead of Washington, D.C.
The decision to bring the indictment to Miami has raised eyebrows, mainly due to its size. However, the irony lies in the fact that the jurisdiction does not rest solely on the randomly assigned judge, Aileen Cannon, who happens to be a Trump appointee. Her court is located in Fort Pierce.
Furthermore, neither of these courthouses is in close proximity to where the alleged crimes occurred. Nevertheless, the Miami courthouse is much closer to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida residence and private club, where the majority of the alleged conduct took place.
The choice to indict Trump in Miami instead of Washington was a calculated move to minimize the potential legal battles over jurisdiction. With the case in Miami, Trump’s lawyers may find it more challenging to challenge the indictment’s validity on the grounds of improper venue, a maneuver that could delay or even derail a trial.
Prominent Fort Lauderdale lawyer John Lawlor shared a noteworthy observation: “While prosecutors are not supposed to consider the political beliefs of potential jurors when determining jurisdiction, it is possible that Trump would have a higher chance of finding sympathetic jurors in Palm Beach County, where Mar-a-Lago is situated, compared to Washington, D.C., where the indictment could have been filed.”
In a recent informational TikTok video, I discussed the likelihood that the West Palm Beach courthouse will be chosen as the primary location of the trial as the case against Trump progresses. This means that residents of Palm Beach County could potentially serve as jurors, raising further interest in the venue selection.
Florida, a state where Trump enjoys greater popularity than in Washington, D.C., could offer a more sympathetic pool of jurors. However, it’s important to note that historical precedents in Miami indicate a general reluctance among jurors to indict government officials, although Trump’s case differs significantly from past circumstances.
There are several reasons why Palm Beach remains the probable venue for this crucial case. The Southern District of Florida is renowned for its swift case resolutions, which could pose a formidable challenge for Trump’s legal team and impede their ability to stall the trial.
In an intriguing move, special counsel Jack Smith has convened grand juries in both D.C. and Florida to examine evidence related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified information post-presidency. While the rationale behind assembling a second grand jury in Miami remains unclear, it suggests that the prosecution is contemplating charges in both jurisdictions.
As the legal saga unfolds, Trump’s defense faces significant strategic hurdles, from the expeditious trial environment in the Southern District of Florida to the complex considerations surrounding venue selection and the dynamics of jury sympathy.
These factors will undoubtedly shape the trajectory and outcome of the legal proceedings against the former president.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.